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Construction underway on temporary Ontario hospital to prep for influx of COVID-19 patients

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April 2, 2020 by David Kennedy

The growing number of coronavirus cases has prompted health providers across Canada to look at temporary solutions for housing the high number of patients. PHOTO: Adobe Stock

Construction crews started work this week on a temporary hospital building southwest of Toronto as health care providers across Canada prepare for an expected “surge” of COVID-19 patients.

Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ont., said March 30 that the modular structure will serve as a Pandemic Response Unit.

“The construction of the Pandemic Response Unit will allow the hospital to preserve our critical care and high acuity patient beds for our sickest patients,” Ian Preyra, the hospital’s chief of staff, said in a release. “Physicians from the Burlington community are volunteering to provide patient care in the Pandemic Response Unit, treating COVID-19 positive patients with acute care needs who may require oxygen therapy and ongoing monitoring.”

BLT Construction Services is “working around the clock” to piece together the 93-bed facility adjacent to the hospital’s south tower. The construction firm said the temporary building uses a modular system from Spring Instant Structures, which is based outside Calgary in Aldersyde, Alta.

BLT has been engaging with the federal government, as well as provincial governments in both Ontario and British Columbia, to find ways to provide temporary relief to hospitals.

“Orders from outside Canada will quickly deplete the stock of Sprung Structures, and our Canadian medical system will not be able to cope with the magnitude and scale of cases,” Mark Watts, the company’s president, said in a release. “Having a sense of urgency and agility at this time will be a significant game changer, and we must work together with all levels of government, institutions, and our teams to help defeat this pandemic.”

According to Spring Instant Structures, the materials for the 8,250 sq. ft. temporary building being erected in Burlington left the Calgary area Sunday.

As of April 2, Ontario had 2,392 confirmed cases of coronavirus, while the Canada-wide figure sits at 9,729.

With the growing total and increasing number of Canadians requiring hospitalization, other provinces are also working on temporary solutions.

B.C. has designated 19 major hospitals “primary” COVID-19 facilities and is preparing other locations to serve as off-site treatment centres. Earlier this week, it noted it was “readying” the Vancouver Convention Centre for 270 patients and setting up 80 beds in a new tower at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster.

“In coming days, other health authorities will begin making similar preparations,” said Adrian Dix, the province’s minister of Health, and Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, in a joint statement March 30.

Quebec, which has nearly half of Canada’s confirmed cases of COVID-19, has already reopened parts of Montreal’s Hotel-Dieu hospital as a testing clinic and has begun housing patients without coronavirus in hotels to free up in-patient beds.

Both Alberta and Manitoba have said they will look at erecting temporary facilities if COVID-19 cases overload conventional hospitals.

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